By Sid Fernando
In just over a week, Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Forte (Violence), bred by South Gate Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, will be crowned the champion 2-year-old male of 2022. He traces in tail-female to the imported La Troienne (Fr), one of the most influential mares in the Stud Book. So many champions and high-class racehorses trace to her that it would be futile to try to list them all here.
La Troienne was foaled in 1926 and bred by Marcel Boussac. Her sire, Teddy (Fr), had a son, 1923 French Guineas winner Sir Gallahad lll (Fr), who was purchased by an American syndicate headed by A.B. Hancock Sr. for $125,000 and entered stud at Claiborne the year she was foaled. Sir Gallahad quickly changed the complexion of US racing, getting William Woodward's Gallant Fox, the 1930 Triple Crown winner, from his first American crop (he'd stood one year in France). Claiborne-based Gallant Fox, in turn, sired 1935 Triple Crown winner Omaha, also for Woodward. (There's a book about this by Jennifer Kelly, “The Foxes of Belair: Gallant Fox, Omaha, & William Woodward,” that will be out in May.)
Sir Gallahad's full brother Bull Dog (Fr) was imported a few years later by Coldstream Stud, and he made his mark as well. His son Bull Lea, at Calumet, sired Citation, winner of 1948 Triple Crown.
By this time, Teddy's influence was pervasive through La Troienne on the bottom side–she was the dam of champions Black Helen and Bimelech, plus numerous producing daughters–and Sir Gallahad and Bull Dog on the top line.
Teddy, a foal of 1913, was himself imported as an aged stallion to stand the 1932 season at Kentmere Farm in Virginia, from where he sired two other stallion sons that were massively important in retrospect. Sun Teddy, a foal of 1933, is the direct male-line ancestor of Damascus through the sire sequence Sun Again/Sunglow/Sword Dancer (sire of Damascus). And Case Ace, a foal of 1934, is the broodmare sire of Raise a Native – sire of Mr. Prospector, who is inbred 4×5 to Teddy, as his third dam is by Bull Dog.
The Teddy sire line is no longer of any consequence in this country–the Damascus branch was the last hope, and there's some symmetry to this because Damascus was bred and raced by Edie Bancroft, daughter of William Woodward, who bred and raced Gallant Fox and Omaha and was a shareholder in Sir Gallahad–but his influence within the recesses of pedigrees was powerful throughout the last century and is still felt today. And in many cases, the tail-female lines of many iconic runners have dams that were sired by Teddy-line horses, and some contain multiple strains of Teddy. The 1973 Triple Crown winner Secretariat's fourth dam was by Teddy himself; the 1977 winner Seattle Slew's dam is inbred 3×3 to the full sisters Busher and Striking, granddaughters of Teddy's La Troienne; and the 1978 winner Affirmed was inbred 5x5x6 to Teddy, while his dam had three crosses to Sir Gallahad and one to Bull Dog in her first five generations.
How about the last English Triple Crown winner, Nijinsky? His dam was by a Teddy-line horse and 4×6 to Teddy. Spectacular Bid, a near Triple Crown winner? His dam, by the Teddy-line horse Promised Land, was 5×5 Teddy. Sunday Silence was from a mare by Understanding–a son of Promised Land–and he was distantly inbred to Teddy as well. And Forego's dam, by a Teddy-line horse, was 3×3 to Sir Gallahad and Bull Dog on the sire-line cross.
More recently, the sixth dam of Flightline is champion Lady Pitt, a daughter of Teddy-line Sword Dancer.
There are too many others bred this way to list here, but you get the picture.
Teddy's Sire Line
This is Teddy's four-generation tail-male lineage: Teddy/Ajax (Fr)/Flying Fox (GB)/Orme (GB)/Ormonde (GB). The latter was a son of Bend Or (GB), from the Doncaster (GB)/Stockwell (GB) line.
Teddy was bred by Edmond Blanc and sold as a young colt to Jefferson Davis Cohn, who raced him and then bred and raced his sons Sir Gallahad and Bull Dog.
Blanc, who owned Haras de Jardy (later purchased by Boussac), also bred and raced Teddy's sire, Ajax, the French Derby winner of 1904. Ajax was from the first crop of Flying Fox, the 1899 English Triple Crown winner for the 1st Duke of Westminster, who died the same year.
In March of 1900, Blanc purchased Flying Fox at auction for the equivalent of $189,000–a record price at the time–and brought him to stand at Haras de Jardy, where he was successful and influential. Jardy (Fr), from Flying Fox's second crop, won the Middle Park S. at two and was second in the English Derby at three for Blanc, who sold him to Argentina for the equivalent of $150,000. Blanc also bred and raced Val d'Or (Fr), another from Flying Fox's second crop. Val d'Or won the French Guineas and the Eclipse S. in England, and Blanc also sold him to Argentina, for the equivalent of $140,000.
Argentina was a wealthy country at this time and had a penchant for importing European Classic winners and well-raced horses, such as the 1900 English Triple Crown winner Diamond Jubilee (GB), for approximately $151,000; the 1899 Ascot Gold Cup winner Cyllene (GB), for about $158,000; the disqualified English Derby winner from the infamous 1913 running, Craganour (GB), for about $150,000; and the U.S.-bred 1912 St. Leger winner and English Derby third, Tracery, for the equivalent of $180,000.
It wasn't just Argentine breeders paying big money for European horses. August Belmont paid $150,000 for 1903 English Triple Crown winner Rock Sand (GB), the sire of Tracery and the broodmare sire of Man o' War. Tracery was from a mare by Orme, the sire of Flying Fox and a son of undefeated Ormonde, the winner of the English Triple Crown of 1886 and the “horse of the century.”
The Duke of Westminister bred Ormonde, his son Orme, and his grandson Flying Fox at his Eaton Stud, and all three were trained by John Porter, who also trained English Triple Crown winner Common (GB) in addition to Triple Crown winners Ormonde and Flying Fox.
Ormonde was by the Duke's homebred 1880 English Derby winner Bend Or, who stood at Eaton, and he was undefeated in 15 starts (some records say 16, counting a private race that was a walkover), according to the book “John Porter of Kingsclere: An Autobiography,” co-written by Edward Moorehouse.
One of the most intriguing sections of Porter's book is where Ormonde began to develop a wind infirmity before winning the St. Leger. Porter wrote: “The satisfaction I derived from Ormonde's performances that year was sadly discounted by a discovery I made on the Kingsclere Downs one misty morning shortly before he won the St. Leger. As Ormonde galloped past me I heard him make a whistling noise. I was dumbfounded.”
Porter continued: “I hardly slept at all the following night. My mind would dwell on the fact that Ormonde had become a victim of that scourge roaring. I at once wrote to the Duke, who was naturally deeply grieved by the news. At that period the ailment was very slight, but it gradually got worse.”
Over the winter as he turned four, Ormonde was treated with an electric sponge “applied every day to the paralysed nerve in his throat,” but when the colt was back working “we could hear him breathing when he was nearly half a mile away,” Porter wrote. Nonetheless, Ormonde ran a few times that year and won, but he was retired by July and entered stud at Eaton in 1888.
The following year, 1889, Ormonde was leased to another farm, where he contracted pneumonia and became seriously ill – and this has been attributed as the cause of his low fertility. He covered only a few mares that season before returning to Eaton in the summer. He was then sold by the Duke to an Argentine breeder, Juan Boucau, for the equivalent of $58,000 and was sent abroad in September. It's likely that Ormonde's wind and fertility issues caused his sale, and at a price that was considerably lower than what top-class horses were bringing from Argentine breeders during this period.
Ormonde spent three Southern Hemisphere seasons in Argentina–1890, 1891, and 1892–before he was sold again, this time to Californian William O'Brien MacDonough of the Menlo Park Stock Farm (later renamed the Ormondale Ranch) in San Mateo on the San Francisco peninsula. The purchase price was $150,000, because by then several of Ormonde's first crop, headed by Eclipse S. winner Orme, were winning impressively.
Ormonde's fertility remained poor and he left behind few foals in Argentina and California, dying in 1904. None were of the quality of Orme, who sired English Derby winner Orby (GB) in addition to Triple Crown winner Flying Fox. One of his best American runners, however, was Ormondale, winner of the 1905 Futurity S. in New York. He later stood, among other farms, at Hamburg Place in Kentucky.
Ormondale, like his prolific male-line relative Teddy, has played a role in the pedigrees of some American Triple Crown winners, believe it or not. The 1941 winner Whirlaway's third dam is a daughter of Ormondale, and, more recently, the 2015 winner American Pharoah's eighth dam is by Ormondale.
How about that?
Sid Fernando is president and CEO of Werk Thoroughbred Consultants, Inc., originator of the Werk Nick Rating and eNicks.